Movie Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain, directed by Simon Curtis (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain, directed by Simon Curtis

(Five Stars)

“Your car goes where your eyes go.”

I still recommend reading the book first, but the movie was simpler and more powerful. Great story; well told. Mark Bomback’s screenplay is, if anything, better than the book. Kevin Costner was an excellent choice to voice Enzo. Brava performance by Amanda Seyfried. (Rated PG)

“A racer will never let something that has already happened affect what is happening now.”

 

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Movie Review: Overcomer, written and directed by Alex Kendrick (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: Overcomer, written and directed by Alex Kendrick

(Five Stars)

“If I asked you who you are, what’s the first thing that comes to mind. Who are you?”

Unabashedly faith-based movie about … well, overcoming, but also redemption and forgiveness.

“When you find your identity in the one who created you, it’ll change your whole perspective.”

The Kendrick Brothers’ movies keep getting better. Hard to say this was better than War Room, but it had more drama and character.

“Your identity will be tied to whatever your heart is tied to.”

The critics hated it, of course.

“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5)

Movie Review: The Lion King, directed and produced by Jon Favreau (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: The Lion King, directed and produced by Jon Favreau

(Three Stars)

Computer-generated remake of Disney’s 1994 classic. The characters look more lifelike but act less so. Not nearly the expressiveness or humor of the original.

The live look increases the impact. Parents of younger children beware.

Stuck to the original score with the addition of a single public-domain staple.

Movie Review: The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang

(Four Stars)

“Based on an actual lie” semi-autobiographical movie about a Chinese American dealing with her paternal grandmother’s terminal illness.

High-quality production despite the obvious small budget and lots of on-site filming in Changchun, China. Much tension and comedy as family gathers from America and Japan for a cousin’s supposed wedding.

Movie Review: Tolkien, directed by Dome Karukoski (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Tolkien, directed by Dome Karukoski

(Four Stars)

“Where you follow the rhythms of language, I have to tell you, Mr. Tolkien, I’ve never come across anything like it.”

This movie will bomb. Too intellectual and idea driven, like Tolkien’s stories. Little to no action. Solid performances by a cast of unknowns.

“No … you deserve magic.”

Having read much by and about Tolkien, I can attest that this accurately represents the formative years of the greatest story teller of the twentieth century, despite the Tolkien Estate disavowing the film. In fact, reviewing Tolkien’s biography reveals Karukoski et al. took many liberties with fact, hence my labeling this as historical fiction

“There are cakes.”

Like Disney’s treatment of Madeleine L’Engle’s  A Wrinkle in Time, all reference to Tolkien’s faith was excised. Tolkien wrote, “We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed, only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man ascribe to the state of perfection that he knew before the fall.”

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit.”

Movie Review: Unplanned, written and directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Unplanned, written and directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon

(Four Stars)

“What she saw changed everything.”

A deeply disturbing movie about inside the abortion industry, based on the memoir of the same name by Abby Johnson. Well produced and edited. A high-quality, though apparently low budget film. Classic in media res format. Robia Scott almost stole the show; great performance. Moments of affection and humor leaven the confrontation and tragedy.

“Non-profit is a tax status, not a business plan.”

Abby Johnson, the protagonist, directed a Planned Parenthood clinic and totally supported its mission and methods for many years. Like most Americans Continue reading

Movie Review: Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve

(Four Stars)

There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.

Excellent hard science fiction. Despite that–and several Academy Award nominations and a Nebula and Hugo Awards–it was ignored at the box office. Probably because it was too cerebral.

Everything you do in there, I have to explain to a room full of men whose first and last question is, “How can this be used against us?” So you’re going to have to give me more than that.

Amy Adams makes the movie. She has the best part, best lines, and despite having only one glamour scene looks believable through it all. Whitaker and Renner stumble through their parts.

“Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

There’s also a spiritual parable quality to Arrival which can’t be ignored. Let each make of it as he or she will.

“Despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace it, and I welcome every moment of it.”

 

Movie Review: Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

(Four Stars)

“Space invasion, a big car chase. Truth be told, I was ready to hang it up until I met you today.” Nick Fury

Lots of fun amid the cinematic mayhem. I like this Nick Fury a lot better; he’s got the best lines. By the end of the film you’re convinced this is what Samuel L. Jackson really looks like. Brie Larson, frankly, is why this rating isn’t five stars. Agent Coulson!

“Does announcing your identity on clothing help with the covert part of your job?” “Said the space soldier who was wearing a rubber suit.”

Marvel seems to do best at origin stories. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel doesn’t know who she is or what’s going on. So we ride along as she figures it out. Great ride. Along the way we find out a lot about Fury, SHIELD, and the Marvel universe.

“This war is just the beginning.” “I’m not going to fight your war. I’m going to end it.”

Unlike so many Marvel movies, not everyone is what they seem. I like discover. I like growth. This movie has lots of both. And lots of special effects.

“I’m kind of done with you telling me what I can’t do.”

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois

(Four Stars)

“We are no longer safe here. We all have to disappear, completely off the map. We have to fight for their freedom.”

A satisfactory and satisfying conclusion to the series. Plot threads draw much of the earlier work together with a suitable threat to add tension. Lots of repetition from previous movies, but not entirely formulaic.

“You brought a baby to a battle?” “I couldn’t find a sitter.”

The animation is amazing. Human hair so much better done that some characters are almost unrecognizable. The youth are now adults, so of course they look different, though most haven’t changed much. Rendering of loose sand was especially good.

“Out there, beyond the edge of the world, lies the home of the dragons, and I believe it’s your destiny to one day find this hidden world.”

Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old, directed and produced by Peter Jackson (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old, directed and produced by Peter Jackson

(Four Stars)

A film of World War One “by a non-historian for non-historians” from the point of view of the British infantry soldier on the Western (European) Front. All film footage is from the Imperial War Museums’ archive restored and colorized, narrated by the voices of soldiers who served in it. The result is a terribly intimate view of the horror of World War One.

Some of the footage is not appropriate for children or the weak of stomach.

If you go, by all means stay for the half-hour short following the closing credits of Peter Jackson explains his production process.